Now, on to the topic at hand. Revisions. Ah, I remember the days. The good old days. When I thought all I had to do was fix the (few, of course) grammar mistakes and my little book would be perfect. I wrote "the end," printed the whole thing out, but a few little red marks on it, and mailed it off.
With this new manuscript, I've started (accidentally) to figure out a new way to revise, and it has been working, so far.
FIRST: Sent out the first few chapters to some people to get immediate reactions of what worked/didn't. This wasn't my serious critique people--I'm talking about mom, husband, friend...generally positive feedback who could tell me in very broad terms their favorite and least favorite parts. That gave me a basis to work from.
SECOND: Cut to market size. In my experience, an agent generally wants one of the following:
- First 5 pages with query
- First 3 chapters with query
- First 50 pages (with query, or as a partial request)
THIRD: I needed the most help with the beginning--it's my first impression, and I've got to make it perfect. So, I submitted (and resubmitted) the first chapter to different people who I consider "critiquers" (as opposed to smiling friends and family). I sent the chapter to one of my crit groups, and also submitted it to the online site to get some real anonymous, honest feedback (despite my earlier snit--I really have appreciated the help from that site). This has led to three different openings...
FOUR: A series of rewrites--perfect the opening and (future plans here) start taking a closer look past page 50 (especially the rushed ending), probably using more page/cut goals (i.e. cut so many pages by such and such a goal mark).
FIFTH: Once all the major cuts and structure is done, I'm going to print a copy and make sure grammar is tight.
SIXTH: I'd like to do a manuscript swap by this time, or some higher level of critique. It's my goal to be at this step by mid-September when I attend my state SCBWI conference.
SEVENTH: Start submissions after a final rewrite based on critique.
This is a drastic change for me--for all my other books, I'd print a copy, fix grammar and a few structure problems, and call it a day. I've got to say, I'm being much more productive with this style of rewriting.